Sign up For DC 37 News


Public Employee Press

Fund universal school lunch now!

One of the priorities of DC 37 in this year’s budget process is to secure funding for universal free lunch for the 1.1 million students in the city’s public school system.

The union is working with a coalition of more than 100 community and advocacy groups to urge Mayor Bill de Blasio to add funding for the free lunch program to his proposed budget, which the City Council is now studying. The final budget for fiscal year 2018 must be approved by June 30.

We believe universal lunch is a no-brainer. Well-nourished students perform better than under-nourished students. Universal free lunch would eliminate the stigma and bullying faced by students now enrolled in income-based meal programs.

Advocates project universal free lunch would increase the participation in the public school system’s meal program by 20 percent, or 120,000 students. This would bring in $59 million more in federal funding. At most, a 20 percent increase would cost the city $20 million, or $20 a year for each participating student.

For years, Board of Education Employees Local 372 has called for universal free meals. The additional funds would cover 1,000 new school lunch workers.

But for the local and DC 37, universal school lunch is not just of matter of jobs and stimulating the local economy. As Local 372 President Shaun D. Francois I says, it’s simply the right thing to do.

Universal free lunch would be a step — albeit a small one — toward addressing the vast inequities in the city, where too many children grow up in poverty and don’t even have three meals a day.

Last year, the school lunch coalition gathered 8,000 signatures for a petition in support of universal free lunch and presented it to the Office of the Mayor. Today, the coalition is urging City Council members to back the program.

We urge Mayor de Blasio to do the right thing by fulfilling his campaign promise to support universal free lunch.